The Tower

In a moment of intense crisis, the main character apparently loses all

XVI: The Tower

demolition upheaval deconstruction disaster destruction

This is a powerful instinctual force emerging from the unconscious, stronger than the will's efforts to repress it, collapse of old forms, inner and outer structure, of false or outgrown values, masks, costumes in a play to impress the audience, structures we build in the outside world to embody our incomplete selves. The tower represents achievement, authority and protection is now in a state of breakdown and dissolution. Let go of fear and the survival instinct to face the unknown implies the fall, ruin, punishment and loss, imprisonment and danger. But it also means freedom from stagnation and restriction - a spiritual healing force. This break-through will result in changes occurring in outer life.
Inverse: Without looking inward it can be a stagnant state.



  • Breaking out of old, confining habits and mindsets.
  • Clearing the way for new growth.
  • Dispelling the influence of an inflated ego.
  • Getting back to basics.
  • Stripping away harmful illusions.
  • Receiving sudden insight.
  • Shadow

    • Clinging to traditions that repress growth.
    • Engaging in willful blindness.
    • Rejecting evidence that change is needed.
    • Ignoring guidance from a higher power.
    • Maliciously engaging in destructive behavior.
    • Symbolism

      The lightning bolt

      Many old traditions interpret disasters as divine commentary. A bolt from the blue might not be God knocking at the door, but a sudden change in circumstance may call your attention to a pattern you've overlooked.


      With the exception of early decks (like the Marseilles), many Tower cards depict darkened skies. The moment of disaster is our lowest point. In what ways have you hit bottom?

      The toppled crown

      The crown in some illustrations represents the ego, or the self. Disasters and sudden challenges often clear the way for us to see ourselves in a new and unexpected light.

      Plummeting bodies

      Universally, humans fear falling from great heights. Significantly, we fall from grace; exposed criminals "take the fall." The scapegoat may be called the "fall guy. How might your situation be impacted by someone's metaphorical fear of falling?

      The Tower's Advice


      • Extinguish old flames before they have an opportunity to dampen promising new relationships.
      • Despite the pain involved, a clean break is healthier than a lingering, drawn-out departure.
      • Break down the walls and communicate honestly about what's really happening.


      • Sacrifice some sacred cows.
      • Harsh criticism from above can clear ground for a new breakthrough.
      • Something is blocking progress; identify it and boldly sweep it aside.
      • Document everything; should the climate suddenly change, you want your ducks in a row.


      • Loss clears away the debris of the past, opening up new ground for new growth.
      • As your heart opens, let old scar tissue fall away.
      • Rather than live in fear of sudden loss, recognize that none of us owns anything.
      • Practice detachment.

      Personal Growth

      • Identify what holds you back and attack it.
      • Embrace bold change.
      • Criticism may come; if so, search each barbed word for a kernel of much-needed truth.
      • Some of life's greatest lessons are tough ones! With time, a bruised ego can become fertile ground for personal growth and maturity.

      Fortune Telling

      • Impending disaster.
      • Cancel plans and reverse decisions.
      • Someone wants to take you down a notch or two.
      • Don't hold back; say what you really mean.


      • Within 23 months

      Questions to ask

      • How might the current situation dramatically alter my perspective?
      • How might this loss open the door for new growth?
      • What attitudes need to be struck down before I proceed?

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      Major Arcana

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      Parts of this page's description of the The Tower tarot card are taken from "A Guide to Tarot Card Meanings" by Mark McElroy.